The same week that a sitting US president visits a federal prison for the first time in the nation’s history, Sandra Bland died in jail. Waiting for her family to be able to bail her out. After being pulled over for not using her turn signal to indicate she was about to change lanes.
Got that? She changed lanes without signaling.
And four days later she’s dead in police custody.
My heart is with Bland’s family. May they have all the resources and support they need to endure this trauma. May they get whatever answers they demand. May they receive whatever #JusticeforSandy that feels meaningful to them. Though I struggle to imagine what “justice” might now mean for her family and friends.
Where does justice live, when love only cries out for the beloved’s return — yet the beloved is no more?
For the rest of us, justice must mean no more senseless deaths at the hands of the police. It must mean an end to the state-sanctioned and state-facilitated slaughter of America’s Black (and brown) daughters and sons. Continue reading “Justice for Sandra Bland”→
[Content note: discussion of rape & rape culture; dehumanizing of incarcerated people]
Or we can talk about artists and rapists, if you prefer.
Just as long as you don’t make the mistake of thinking either pairing consists of diametrically opposed terms, and never the twain shall meet. If you believe that all rapists are simply monsters — and thus clearly distinct and apart from the rest of all us good and worthy humanfolk — well…
It may be time to burst that bubble.
What makes rape an inherently violent act (apart from any matters of concurrent physical brutality or psychological harm) is the way the rapist obliterates the physical boundaries and bodily integrity of another person. A rapist denies the very humanity of his or her victims, and enacts that denial upon their flesh.
In my deepest core, I do not believe that such violence is ameliorated in any way by returning the denial, ‘eye for an eye’-style, and monster-izing the perpetrator’s own humanity in turn.
But a quest for justice is not true root to the evergreen popularity of our ‘ALL RAPISTS = ALL MONSTERS, ALL THE TIME’ beliefs. Rape culture hides its traps in plain sight. If I believe that rapists (and I’m talking real rapists, to be clear: the really-real ones, who really really-rape) are always monsters, then I can comfort myself with the belief that no one I know is possibly a rapist.
Because I only know people.
Truth is, as Melissa McEwan wrote in response to Camille Cosby’s defense of her husband (Bill Cosby is “the man you thought you knew” from TV, according to Camille’s statement, and thus cannot possibly be the rapist currently portrayed in the media):
“[H]aving decent qualities that are common among humans does not mean that someone cannot also be terrible. We’re all some combination of good bits and bad bits….
“Rapists are not literal monsters. They are human beings, and often deceptively charming ones at that. They can be in one moment cruel, and the next kind, even with their victims.”